Friday, June 10, 2011
Britain's Bishops at war: Head of Catholics leads furious backlash after Archbishop of Canterbury's attack on Coalition
The Archbishop of Canterbury is embroiled in an extraordinary war with David Cameron and rival Church leaders after a bitter attack on the Government.
In the most brazen political intervention by a head of the Church of England for more than two decades, Dr Rowan Williams questioned the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition. He claimed 'no one voted' for flagship policies on welfare, health and education, which he said were causing 'anxiety and anger'.
The remarks prompted a furious backlash from the Prime Minister and the leader of England's Roman Catholics, Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Dr Williams's attack came in a leading article for the Left-wing New Statesman magazine which he had been invited to guest-edit. Dr Rowan Williams questioned the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition
He dismissed Mr Cameron's Big Society initiative as 'painfully stale' and condemned 'punitive' action against 'alleged abuses' in the benefits system. The Archbishop also accused ministers of encouraging a 'quiet resurgence of the seductive language of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor'.
It is the most controversial intervention in politics by the Church of England since Robert Runcie and Margaret Thatcher clashed in 1985 over the Church's Faith In The City report on poverty.
Yesterday the leader of England's Roman Catholics rejected Dr Williams's suggestion that the Prime Minister's plans to encourage volunteering and charity work were a cover for cuts and spoke out in favour of the 'genuine moral agenda' driving the Coalition's reforms.
Archbishop Nichols praised Mr Cameron for putting marriage and family stability at the centre of policy-making, and he supported his Big Society vision.
His comments appeared to herald a holy war between the liberal-dominated Church of England, increasingly under the sway of clerics who regard state spending as sacrosanct and cuts as immoral, and a Roman Catholic church that backs Mr Cameron's belief in self-help and the traditional family.
A string of Tory and Lib Dem Cabinet ministers also defended the Government against Dr Williams's remarks.
Mr Cameron said he 'profoundly disagreed' with Dr Williams, while Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the primate had been 'unbalanced and unfair'. The Prime Minister said there was nothing 'good or moral' about leaving debts for the next generation to repay, trapping people on welfare or giving children sub-standard education.
Mr Cameron, in Belfast to address the Northern Ireland Assembly, said: 'I've never been one to say that the Church has to fight shy of making political interventions, but what I would say is that I profoundly disagree with many of the views that he's expressed, particularly on issues like debt and on welfare and education.
'I am absolutely convinced that our policies are about actually giving people greater responsibility and greater chances in their life and I will defend those very vigorously.'
Senior Church colleagues are also understood to be questioning the wisdom of their leader's remarks. Lord Carey, Dr Williams's predecessor, pointedly backed the Coalition's education policy, saying academies and free schools would 'bring more freedom to religious schools to instil their ethos and their values'.
In the New Statesman article, Dr Williams said the Government was facing 'bafflement and indignation' over its health and education plans. 'With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. 'At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context,' he claimed, adding 'The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.'
Dr Williams described Mr Cameron's Big Society initiative – which he praised earlier this year – as being viewed with 'widespread suspicion' and said the term had become 'painfully stale'. He also challenged Labour to produce a 'big idea' and warned it not simply to 'collude' in public fear.
But Mr Duncan Smith, a devout Catholic, said the Archbishop was simply wrong to suggest any minister had resurrected the Victorian concept of the 'deserving poor'.
'If a Churchman can't endorse the idea of community and the voluntary sector, doing what is necessary to help people out of their difficulties, then I wonder who will?' he said.
And Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: 'The Government has legitimacy because it has a majority in the House of Commons.'
Tory MP Roger Gale said: 'For him, as an unelected member of the upper house ... to criticise the Coalition as undemocratic is unacceptable.'
But Labour education spokesman Andy Burnham said: 'Across the country, people who are seeing this Government pursuing divisive policies without a mandate will share the Archbishop's concerns.'
A profoundly divisive Leftie rather than a man of God and a custodian of his church
COMMENTARY below by Stephen Glover
Even if Dr Rowan Williams’ remarks had been uncontroversial, his decision to be guest editor of the Leftist New Statesman would still be hard to understand. I would say the same if had he been asked to edit a Right-wing magazine.
The primate of the Church of England, and the leader of the 70million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, should not enter the hurly-burly of political journalism.
In the event he has gone much further in his two-page editorial in the New Statesman. By seemingly questioning the legitimacy of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, and by criticising its policies, he has created a storm that may harm his office and the Church of England, and will dismay many churchgoers and others.
Of course, prelates should speak up for the poor and excluded, but they run a terrible risk when they stray from general arguments about society into making party political interventions.
I doubt any archbishop in modern times has been so specific in his political point-scoring as Dr Williams. The Church of England’s 1985 report Faith In The City angered the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, because it lamented the supposed effects of Tory economic policies in the inner cities. But the report had a more general thrust than Dr Williams’ criticisms and, unlike him, did not question the Government’s right to govern.
This is the most incendiary aspect of what he said – his suggestion that ‘there is understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context’. When you bore down through the customary waffle and opacity, this would seem to mean that the Coalition may not have a democratic mandate.
Would he have insinuated the same thought if there had been a Labour-Lib Dem coalition? I very much doubt it. In fact, the Coalition has more popular support – if you add up the votes of all those who voted Tory and Lib Dem – than any government in modern times.
Of course it is true that the two governing parties have broken some of their pledges. The inevitability of compromise is a powerful argument against coalitions. But it is simply not true, as Dr Williams alleges, that ‘with remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical long-term policies for which no one voted’.
His example of the Government’s ‘free schools’ policy is a case in point. The Tories set out their ideas in enormous detail before the last election, and they were included in their manifesto.
Whether Dr Williams likes it or not, significantly more people – nearly 11 million – voted for the Tories than any other party in May 2010.
But it is probably in his attack on Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare changes that the Archbishop is widest of the mark. He bemoans the ‘quiet resurgence of the seductive language of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor'.
Why he should think such language ‘seductive’ I don’t know, but it has never been used by Mr Duncan Smith or anyone else in the Government. This is a slur against a man (a devout Christian, as it happens) who has thought much more than Dr Williams about how to help the long-term poor free themselves from what are often generations of workless existence and dependence on welfare. Mr Duncan Smith contends that his ‘universal credit’ will lift a million people out of poverty.
And, of course, his proposals were very widely discussed before the election, and have not been sprung on the British people, as the Archbishop’s New Statesman maunderings imply.
Dr Williams emerges from his convoluted and sometimes near unfathomable prose as an unreconstructed 1960s ‘Leftie’ with a barely concealed dislike for Tory men and Tory measures.
If he really was hell-bent on being a guest editor of the New Statesman, a rather moth-eaten magazine that has seen better days, might he not have thought more of what the Church of England should be doing to mend our fractured and increasingly secular society?
There are so many social ills such as family breakdown about which he could have invited debate by commissioning pieces for the magazine.
And why no article about what the Church can do to turn back the tide of secularism and consumerism? Why no consideration of why fewer than a million people a week attend Church of England services?
Dr Williams has merely succeeded in being divisive by guest-editing the New Statesman. I yearn for a Primate of the Church of England who lifts his gaze above party politics, and proclaims Christian values in a society that no longer cares much about them. I’m afraid I no longer have much confidence that Rowan Williams will ever be that man.
Victory for father after autistic son's 12-month ordeal in the clutches of Fascistic British social workers
A father wept yesterday as a judge vindicated his crusade to free his autistic son from a year-long ordeal in the clutches of social workers. Mark Neary was praised for refusing to give up on 21-year-old Steven who was ‘unlawfully’ kept from his family by heavy-handed council officials.
Steven had only gone into care for three days to give his father a chance to recover from flu, but social workers flagged up the young man’s behaviour as ‘challenging’ and decided to keep him permanently.
The council said care staff had concerns about Mr Neary's 'challenging' behaviour and weight, and argued that the move was intended to be for a longer period
He was upset at being parted from his father, and had a habit of tapping people on the shoulder to attract their attention. Absurdly, Steven’s shoulder-tapping was recorded in the respite centre’s daily log as a series of ‘assaults’.
To 52-year-old Mr Neary’s horror, he was informed his son was not allowed to return to his family home in North-West London but would instead be placed in a care home 150 miles away in Wales.
Steven would have languished there indefinitely had it not been for Mr Neary’s fierce determination that the system would not be allowed to steal his son. They were finally reunited last December, a full year after social workers had tried to rip the family apart.
Yesterday a judge applauded Mr Neary’s fortitude in facing down an army of officials. Mr Justice Peter Jackson, sitting in the Court of Protection at the High Court, also criticised Hillingdon social services for ‘turning a deaf ear’ to the family’s plight, adding that had Mr Neary been a lesser parent, his son ‘would have faced a life in public care that he did not want and does not need’.
He said Mr Neary could be ‘proud of the way he has stood up for his son’s interests’. Mr Justice Jackson concluded that the council had breached Steven’s human rights by keeping him away from home.
Outside the court in London, Hillingdon social services’ director Linda Sanders apologised and accepted that father and son had been ‘let down’.
Mr Neary, who works as a counsellor, declared himself ‘relieved, tearful, satisfied,’ and said the ruling was ‘fantastic’. He added: ‘I knew Steven should be at home because I know Steven. But there was always more of them than there was of me. ‘I feel vindicated. I have heard there are a lot of other people in similar positions. Hopefully people will read this judgment and be prepared to fight for the rights of their kids.’
He praised the Press for reporting his son’s case, which would normally have been shrouded in the secrecy of the family courts system.
The judge also condemned council chiefs for trying to spin their way out of trouble by smearing the family in circulating a three-page ‘media briefing note’ that created a ‘particularly unfair and negative picture’ of Steven. He branded it a ‘sorry document’ full of inaccurate information.
The family’s ordeal began in December 2009 when Mr Neary, who earlier in the year had separated from his wife Julie, had flu and asked the council for help with his son for a few days until he recovered.
Steven went into the council’s care for three days, to a home he had stayed at before. But after the first day in respite, staff said they were ‘unable to cope’ with him.
When Mr Neary returned to collect his son, he was refused access and informed that Steven was being transferred to a Positive Behaviour Unit run by the council. It triggered a care battle that lasted a year.
Mr Neary got his son back last December after winning an interim court order. After a full hearing in May, the judge reserved judgment until yesterday. The judge said: ‘Hillingdon had no lawful basis for keeping Steven away from his family.
‘It acted as if it had the right to make decisions about Steven, and by a combination of turning a deaf ear and force majeure, it tried to wear down Mark Neary’s resistance, stretching its relationship with him to almost breaking point.’
Last night at his home, Mr Neary said: ‘Every day since Steven has come back, he asks me if he has to go back into care. Every day I’ve had to reassure him that he won’t.’
Australia: HOMOSEXUAL FAVOURITISM IN HIGH GEAR
Just the suggestion of discriminating against homosexuals in the story immediately below led to opprobrium. But in the second story below, actual discrimination BY homosexuals was officially approved
No-gay Glee: Leeton High School musical leaves out Kurt Hummel accused of homophobia
A HIGH school has been accused of homophobia after leaving a key gay character out of its Glee tribute musical. Leeton High School, in Leeton, NSW, copped criticism after it emerged that its musical would not include one of the TV show's lead characters, openly gay teen Kurt Hummel.
Theories sprung up as to why the character, played by Chris Colfer in the TV show, was omitted. Some suggested it was because a student playing a gay character could be harassed by other children at the school. Others said Kurt was left out simply because none of the students who auditioned were suitable for the role, which requires a soprano voice.
NSW Education Department spokesman Grant Hatch denied it was because Kurt was openly gay. "Not all characters from the television show were written into the school's musical, but there was no conscious thought by the authors about which names or characters to exclude," he said.
"Rehearsal had progressed for a considerable time with the students before anyone involved realised that Kurt was one of the names from the show that had not been used." "We left out other minority groups"
The department said its anti-discrimination policy extended to drama productions and it "would not accept dropping a character from a script because of sexual preference".
The school's website promotes the show, Don't Stop Believing, as having a plotline "based on the typical teenage issues of popularity and peer pressure, love and the age old battle between sport and music". More than 100 students will be involved in the production, with 13 of Glee's main characters portrayed.
Mr Hatch said other minority groups represented in the original show had also been left out. "Even when the same (character) name is used, not all characteristics are transplanted," he said.
"For instance, no Asian, Afro-American, Jewish, obese, anorexic or wheelchair-bound students appear even though they are prominent in the television show."
Glee's official website describes Kurt as a "fashion-forward soprano" targeted by school bullies, who develops a crush on the high school quarterback and markets his own fragrance.
Homosexual bar allowed to discriminate against women
On palpably false grounds
A GAY venue in Collingwood has won the right to ban women to ensure its patrons are not subjected to attempts by predatory females to turn them straight. VCAT has granted Sircuit Bar in Smith St an exemption to anti-discrimination laws, allowing it to ban women because they make the men uncomfortable.
"The applicant primarily relies on the exemption to exclude women from the venue, other than on Sundays after 3pm," VCAT reasoned. "This is to ensure that gay men are not subject to attempts to change their sexuality, which reduce their comfort in the venue, which includes being fully accepted for who they are."
Despite the ruling, a spokesman for the venue said the club had never had a problem with women trying to turn gay men straight. "We haven't had that problem here. But it does happen that women try and turn gay men straight," said the general manager, who wanted to be known only as Steve.
"When I was at high school and came out, plenty of my girlfriends said come with me and I'll turn you straight. You'd have to ask VCAT why they made the ruling."
Sircuit is a two-level nightclub that includes pool tables, a maze, movie lounges, private rooms and a wash area. The venue is an active fund-raiser and is regularly used by gay men's social and community groups.
VCAT said it was important gay men had a venue where they were not subject to disparaging comments. "For gay men who wish to display affection ... those actions can readily lead to misunderstanding and disparaging comments which are not applied to heterosexual people," VCAT said. "The applicants wish to provide a venue where it is safe and acceptable to openly express homosexuality."
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission did not wish to intervene in the decision, and VCAT said it did not contravene the Charter of Human Rights.
Human Rights Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke said she supported the exemption. "One of the objectives of the EOA is to promote recognition and acceptance of everyone's right to equality of opportunity," Dr Szoke said. However, Dr Szoke said complaints about women trying to turn gay men straight in nightclubs "would not be covered under our legislation".
Other gay venues have had less success in banning patrons. Last year the Peel Hotel in Collingwood lost its right to ask people their sexuality before they were allowed to enter.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.